Ios Island Guide
If you’ve heard of Ios, it’s probably the tiny Cycladic island’s reputation as a party destination for those seeking a cheaper and more pleasant alternative to Mykonos.
While it’s true that many young revellers descend on the island in peak season, particularly to the main beach resort of Mylopotas, this shouldn’t put you off visiting Ios as it’s a big island with something to offer everyone, and the nightlife is pretty self-contained. Ios has many excellent beaches, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking for a Greek island to relax and unwind.
Ios has no airport but is on a popular north-south ferry route between Mykonos and Santorini, making it easily accessible over the summer tourist season. Use the search box below to find ferry ticket prices and availability:
The port is situated close to Chora in a small resort called Ormos. While it might seem tempting to walk to Chora, the ascent is quite steep, so if you’re travelling with luggage, it’s preferable to take the local bus to your accommodation rather than attempt it on foot.
We first visited in 2017 and found a bus waiting for the ferry on arrival. It only took 10 minutes to reach the nearby resort of Mylopotas, where the bulk of accommodation is located. There are regular buses throughout the day covering the main beaches and tourist resorts, though if you want to explore the island thoroughly, it’s better to rent transportation. The island is surprisingly large and can take some effort to explore due to its limited and winding road network.
Unless you have a sufficient budget for the eye-wateringly expensive luxury Calilo resort, you’ll probably want to choose one of the following for your base on Ios:
The port of Ormos blends into the spacious and unassuming beach resort of Gialos, where you’ll find a large, soft sand beach in a wide southwest-facing bay. Accommodation to suit most budgets can be found in every direction within walking distance of the beach/port. In 2023, we stayed at the Yialos Ios Hotel and loved the convenient location and proximity to shops and tavernas around the port and behind Gialos Beach.
A footpath up to Chora gets you to the island’s picturesque capital in 15 minutes, though it’s a steep and sweat-inducing climb during the heat of the day.
If you prefer a central location and don’t mind being further from the beach, Chora puts you in the heart of Ios, less than 10 minutes by bus in each direction to the port and the popular beach resort of Mylopotas. Both are walkable in 10-20 minutes, though, as mentioned above, it’s downhill to the beach but a fairly energetic walk back to Chora (our advice is to walk down, then use the regular and cheap bus service to get back!)
Most accommodation isn’t within the centre of Chora, but either above or below it on the hillside, so you’ll need to walk a few minutes to get to the heart of the village. Still, there are plenty of shops and tavernas to be found, plus, of course, the vibrant nightlife of bars and clubs if you want to party through the night.
The church of Agios Georgios and Chapel of Agios Nikolaos at the summit of Ios Chora is a popular sunset spot, offering stunning views down to the port and Gialos Beach.
Mylopotas is a vast, golden sand beach resort in a wide bay just south of Chora. Despite its popularity, the sense of openness and peace is foremost, with only a small selection of tavernas and accommodation behind the beach. Most of the hotels and apartments are set on the hillside to the north. Far Out Beach Club offers a lively party atmosphere and cheap accommodation at the south end for those looking to max out on the nightlife offered on Ios.
The interactive map below shows some of our favourite hotels, restaurants, beaches and places of interest on Ios. Click on the map markers below to see more details.
Despite its central location within the Cyclades, Ios remains unspoiled and traditional, with many superb sandy beaches dotted around the coastline and plenty of decent restaurants. Much of the island is barren and uninhabited, with most of the island’s population concentrated in Chora.
The most well-known attraction on the island is the Tomb of Homer, the supposed burial place of the Greek Poet and author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Whether he was responsible for those works remains disputed, as does his actual death and burial on Ios. However, a small tomb and headstone dedicated to Homer can be found in a remote setting to the far northeast of the island here. It takes about 30 minutes by quad bike and slightly less by car or moped.
The site is a little underwhelming and not entirely worth the effort, except perhaps as an opportunity to explore the island. Two small sandy bays can be found nearby on the northern coast (both called Plakoto), but neither is comparable to the excellent selection of beaches elsewhere on the island.
The island’s only other tourist attraction is the remains of a bronze-aged settlement called Skarkos. Situated just a few minutes north of Chora, it’s easily accessible and worth visiting for a bit of Greek history.
The party atmosphere is mainly limited to the south end of Mylopotas Beach at the FarOut Beach Club, then into Chora, where a good selection of bars can be found down the small Cycladic streets. Things don’t get going in Chora until midnight and often continue until after sunrise.
Elsewhere, you’ll find EREGO Beach and Pathos clubs near Koumpara Beach around the bay west of the port. EREGO is open during the daytime and offers a pool with good music, cocktails and a restaurant. Pathos opens late afternoon with a superb sunset infinity pool and fantastic music. Both are more expensive, so if you’re looking to party on a budget, it’s better to stick to Chora or the more reasonably priced Far Out Beach Club at Mylopotas.
Check out our video guide of Ios recorded in the summer of 2021:
Ios is definitely an island of two opposites: you can come here for a relaxing, traditional Greek experience and enjoy good food and superb beaches while soaking up the Mediterranean sun, or you can sleep in until noon, grab a few hours by the beach or pool and then party from dusk until dawn. Whichever you choose, Ios really does deliver. After four visits in six years, it’s one of our favourite summer destinations.
If you’re looking for alternatives to Ios, it depends on what aspect of the island you’re most connected to. The only obvious candidate for nightlife is Mykonos, though we’re not a big fan due to its high prices and over-popularity. Good nightlife can be found on other Greek islands, for example, Malia on Crete, Kavos on Corfu and Laganas on Zante, to name just a few.
Find out more about Ios by reading blog posts from our recent visits:
This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Thursday 4th August 2022 Filling in the Gaps I completed my exploration of northern Ios yesterday, so it was time…